Be Experience Led
Although I believe in a company being product-led through a focus on showing product value as a way to attract customers, I don't feel that is the start of the customer journey. I believe that a customer's experience doesn't begin once they start using the application, but instead it begins with the very first touchpoint or interaction with the company. That first interaction may be a marketing email, an ad, or the customer visiting the company website to learn more about the company and the products. I also feel the customer's experience doesn't end when they close their account because there is always the opportunity to get them back, so even their post-churn experience should be a positive one.
I describe this as being experience-led; that is how I describe what I do and it's the mindset I strive to impart to others. This doesn't mean UX leads every initiative either. Instead, it means that ensuring a positive customer experience with every touchpoint or interaction is everyone's job. Think about it as if you sell experiences, not products. This focus on customer experience is something I look for as a core value of a company.
Here are my 6 tenets of being experience-led successfully:
- Everyone is responsible for the experience
- Understanding our customers enables us to solve the right problems
- Use data to inform decisions
- Focus on behavior-based outcomes
- Sell experiences, not products
- Make every experience delightful
My Leadership Style
I typically describe my leadership style as servant leadership because I believe my success comes from making those that report to me and others around me successful. I want those I manage to feel empowered to do their best work with me supporting them by removing any potential roadblocks to their success. I'm not reactionary but instead, I may sit and listen quietly throughout an entire meeting and then speak at the end once I feel I have enough information or ask questions to gather additional information, but either way, I want anything I say to add value to the conversation. I believe the way for me to be the most effective leader is through trust and respect, not authority.
I strive to instill a growth-mindest in others and that with the right amount of focus and drive, anyone can improve their skills if they want. Instead of giving answers to questions, I tend to ask questions to get others to think, problem-solve, and arrive at a conclusion on their own. I'm not a micro-manager and I'm not a fan of being managed that way myself, because I feel we're all adults and should be able to interact, collaborate, and even disagree in a healthy, respectable manner while still being able to deliver on expectations.
I think the final aspect of my leadership style is that I believe in everyone having a good work-life balance, not just those that report to me. I believe people need time to recharge and should be encouraged to take that time.
Approach to UX
The great thing about being in UX is we have so many process frameworks to choose from, and if someone isn't happy with an existing one, they make a tweak and publish it for others to use. The worst part about being in UX is that we have so many processes and frameworks to choose from and people are constantly creating and sharing new ones. As if that isn't bad enough, you don't always do every step of the process you're trying to follow depending on the outcome you're looking to achieve or the task you're attempting to accomplish.
I used to chuckle in meetings because it seemed like every time someone asked about how something worked, the answer always came back as "it depends". Now, as I've been the one asked to describe the UX process to people across the organization, my standard answer now is "it depends". I say that not to be difficult, but more so because it really does depend on several factors such as the task, the complexity, the pre-existing knowledge of the problem...the list goes on, but the idea is you need to align your process with the outcome you're trying to achieve at that point in time.
My overall design approach most often aligns with one of two frameworks, either double-diamond or design thinking. At the end of the day, they are pretty closely aligned from an overall thematic approach. You start by understanding the user needs, pain points, doing some research, understanding how we're going to measure success, and generally ensuring you're correctly interpreting the opportunity space. You then do some brainstorming, solutioning, and user testing to ensure your solution will address the user and business needs. Finally, you're ready for the solution to be built and delivered to users. Ideally, some of the later stages happen in an iterative fashion, but that isn't always the case when creating a new feature or product with many moving parts and the user needs all of them to be successful in completing their task.
I think the phase that's often overlooked or minimalized is what happens after launch? How are we gathering feedback? How are we monitoring our KPIs or UX Metrics to ensure we were successful? Not that I don't advocate for UX throughout the whole process, but this is an area that I tend to draw special attention to because how do we know we were successful if we don't measure it and far too often this is overlooked or forgotten. I believe in having a complete user feedback loop informing design decisions, company direction, and product strategy decisions as well.